Website provides online gallery for Sidmouth School of Art projects

Sidmouth Photographic Club with Robert Darch and Sidmouth School of Art members

Sidmouth Photographic Club with Robert Darch and Sidmouth School of Art members, left to right: Steve Andrews, Harriet Morris, Coco Hodgkinson, Mike Hawkridge, Michael Ginsberg, Robert Darch, Louise Cole, David Shrigley and Sarah Hall. - Credit: Simon Vacher.

A new website has been created to showcase the work made through Sidmouth School of Art’s projects, including the Sidmouth Wallspace. 

The public art displayed on the billboard at Port Royal also features on the Sidmouth School of Art (SSA) website, along with other work by the school. 

The current billboard artwork, Fragments of Sidmouth, is the first photography exhibit. Mike Hawkridge worked with artist/photographer Robert Darch, who has exhibited nationally and internationally, to produce a collection of pictures capturing details of the town’s architectural features. 

Sidmouth Photographic Club was founded in 1937 and has more than 50 members with vastly different interests and experience. The subject for the SSA project with Robert Darch, A Sense of Place, gave nine members the chance to explore their perception of a place they know intimately. 

Michael Ginsberg LRPS, liaison for the photographic club, said: “One of the many surprises and benefits was seeing the different ideas and approaches produced by the photographers.  

“In many ways, because Sidmouth is such a focus of interest for its scenic beauty and often photographed, it is not easy to find new and original ideas, but the process inspired all the group to do so.” 

Robert Darch mentored the group in a series of online sessions, using his own varied experience and examples from other famous artists and photographers to teach some of the theory behind project work, and providing inspiration and direction.  

He was supported by the directors of SSA, including the artist David Shrigley OBE, and the participants benefited from broad experience spanning fine art and photography. 

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Mike Hawkridge ARPS AFIAP, the first member to have his artwork installed on the billboard after the Robert Darch’s The Tree on the Hill, found the challenge hugely stimulating. 

He said: “I have a passion for architectural photography but the project challenged me further to see Sidmouth through different eyes. I noticed much to celebrate in the details of the buildings, and the creative process to apply that observation and produce artwork to fill the billboard was a stimulating experience and thoroughly rewarding.” 

The members’ work continues with SSA and the learning outcomes are being shared with the wider membership of the club so that everyone will benefit from the project.